Grease and baby wipes clogging Metro Van sewers

Cooking grease and wet wipes in the sewer system cost Metro Vancouver and its municipalities like Langley about $2.25 million a year, said Jeff Gogol, an environmental regulatory planner with Metro Vancouver’s liquid waste services division.

Grease is by far the more expensive problem, costing about $2 million a year, Gogol said.

“It’s like a clogged artery. It binds to the walls of the pipe, so that it gets smaller and smaller and you can’t get as much sewage through. What we’re worried about is that it can back up into people’s homes, which is not nice, or it can overflow out of manholes or into parks.”

Starting late this summer, Metro Vancouver will be launching an awareness campaign in certain neighbourhoods and measuring the impact in terms of how much grease and wipes wind up in the sewer system. If successful, the campaigns will be rolled out across the region.

While restaurants, which use large amounts of cooking oil and fats, are part of the problem, grease in sewers is also an issue in residential areas, Gogol said. Richmond in particular is an area of concern, as Asian cooking tends to involve more deepfrying and more oil.

Wet wipes interfere with the operation of sewage pumps by physically binding to them.

“We have to get guys in on a regular basis to just try to pull the rags out so that we can pump sewage much more efficiently,” Gogol said.

Some wipes break down enough to pass through the machinery, Gogol said, “but that does react with the grease, so you get this grease that’s even tougher to clean because it’s now got fibres in it.

“So all of it together is… a growing problem.”

There are national and international talks taking place with manufacturers to develop meaningful standards around flushability for wet wipes and increasing the size of the “Do not flush” wording on packages.

But the proper place for wipes is in the garbage, Gogol said.

And as for that greasy frying pan?

“If you’re just frying bacon or meat or anything, you can let it cool, take a paper towel or a newspaper, that will soak it up. If you have food scraps, it can go into the food scraps container. If you don’t, it can go in the garbage,” he explained. “It composts nicely.”

It can also be placed in a container, allowed to harden and cool, and then put in the garbage.

Liquid cooking oil in larger amounts should be collected and taken to a depot that accepts it. There are seven in Metro Vancouver, with two in Richmond and one each in Burnaby, Delta, Langley, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge. has a list and map of depot locations.

Metro Vancouver plans to pilot awareness campaigns in certain neighbourhoods for wipes in early September and grease in residential areas around Thanksgiving.

– Tara Carman is a Vancouver Sun reporter.

For more from the Vancouver Sun, click HERE 

Just Posted

Langley chamber joins call to kill ‘no pipeline ever’ law

Bill C-69 will hurt the local Langley economy, Chamber warns

World Day of Prayer returns to Langley

St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is hosting the annual day on March 1.

Young Langley family plagued by angry cab customers

A couple rents a house formerly used by a cab firm, and unwelcome visitors knocking.

Woman groped on Langley’s 208th Street

Police are asking for tips to identify the man responsible.

PHOTOS: Family Day a success at Aldergrove Telephone Museum

A record number of people visited the Telephone Museum on Monday to tour the historic exhibits.

VIDEO: Nail-biter game against Germany tonight earns Langley’s Team Canada a win

Langley’s Team Tardi is 5-2 at the junior curling worlds in Nova Scotia, hoping to defend their title

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Missing Surrey snowshoer caught in avalanche found dead on Vancouver mountain

North Shore Rescue resumed its search today after efforts were temporarily halted Tuesday due to snowstorm

Most Read